Dijsselbloem in Athens: Greece Needs “Clean” Bailout Exit

After meeting with the president of the Republic and the PM, Eurogroup Chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem said that Greece and its European creditors are on a good path to completing the latest round of bailout talks, with a view to a “clean exit” from strict fiscal supervision.

Dijsselbloem said that the country is regaining credibility, with a “very strong” fiscal performance in 2016 and 2017.

He told reporters in Athens it is in Greece’s and its creditors’ common interest to rapidly conclude the upcoming new round of bailout talks by the end of 2017, calling this a “feasible” target.

Dijsselbloem said Greece must make a clean, smooth exit from its eight-year bailout program that ends next summer, regaining financial independence.

The Eurogroup president, who last visited Greece in 2015 when the country was teetering on the verge of financial collapse with its leftist-led government clashing with foreign creditors, said “Greece is now coming back on track”.

“The review is now the next step.  It can and should be done before the end of the year,” Dijsselbloem told Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos during his visit to Athens.

“Opening up the talks on how to do the exit of the programme is the next step and I would agree with anyone who expresses the deep wish that Greece becomes financially independent again.”

Dijsselbloem urged all sides – Athens, the Eurogroup, European Union institutions and the International Monetary Fund – to work hard together to ensure that Greece is fully prepared to exit its bailout.

“The end of the programme is the beginning of a new phase and we should do whatever we can, from the Greek side and from the Eurogroup side and all the institutions, to make sure that Greece is fully prepared for financial independence,” he said.

He told Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that he agreed with the government’s view that the bailout exit should be “clean”, without new financial support and attached conditions.

“I think we agree on that, it should be a clean exit,” he said, adding that during the rest of his term as Eurogroup chairman until January 2018, he would support Greek efforts. “In the months that I have, make no mistake that I will be fully committed,” he said.